England’s bowling attack is at a crossroads that it has not encountered in many years. With the 37-year-old Jimmy Anderson set to miss the two-Test series against New Zealand, this is a glimpse into the future, as was the Ashes, in how England cope without their most lethal wicket-taker in history.
That is where having Darren Gough as a consultant could prove crucial if England are to have any success down under. With 229 Test wickets to his name, he could provide the experience in new coach Chris Silverwood’s setup that is needed for England’s pace attack.
It’s easy to forget that Jofra Archer is still very new to Test cricket, after all, he only made his debut midway through the Ashes. He was brilliant at times against the Australians, but equally ineffective at points, as his pace dropped to the low 80mphs. He will be pivotal to England’s success in New Zealand, but the tutelage of Gough may help get the best out of him in his first series away from home.
With Chris Woakes and Sam Curran both vying for the fourth seamer’s spot, and 22-year-old Saqib Mahmood an outsider to play, England’s pace attack is no longer a formality. Having another experienced Test bowler in the coaching team will help ensure the best players are selected in each particular match.
The most valuable quality that Gough will bring to this England team, however, relates to the versatility that he displayed throughout his career. The Yorkshireman was not blessed with the height or athleticism of the likes of Stuart Broad or Archer, but still found a way to take wickets. Regardless of the conditions or where he was playing, Gough adapted and was successful in most places on earth.
While New Zealand offers conditions fairly similar to England, they have had some flat pitches in recent tours that have frustrated bowlers. The former Yorkshire and Essex seamer’s input and know-how will be invaluable to some young bowlers.